This year, luxury New York brand Coach – America’s original house of leather – celebrates its 75th anniversary. In spite of this milestone, Stuart Vevers explains that Coach is a brand perennially young at heart: “it’s a very spritely 75-year-old!” he remarks. It is indisputable that in the two short years since Vevers' appointment as creative director the brand has been injected with a vivacious new lease of life; it has seen the launch of ready-to-wear line Coach 1941, collaborations with Parisian concept store Colette, and figureheads such as Chloe Grace Moretz, Debbie Harry, Winona Ryder and Millie Bobby Brown all appearing on the front row of its shows, clad in its coveted designs. As he continues, “I always felt Coach should have a very youthful approach, but it wasn’t necessarily about age; it’s about an attitude and a way of thinking.”
This way of thinking is reflected throughout Coach House, the brand’s new offering to London’s Regent Street, comprising 504 square metres of retail space which reflect not only a rich heritage, but also Vevers’ radical shake up of Coach’s position in the market. Case in point: upon stepping into the store, you are welcomed by an enormous rainbow-coloured dinosaur called Rexy, now part of a “family of Coach beasts”, who features as a motif on an assortment of knitwear and leather goods. To wander around the space is a thoroughly warm and inviting experience, and one that is fully aligned with Vevers’ desire to “challenge the formalities and preconceptions of what luxury means”.
Vevers strives for informality, but only the most considered objects or furnishings can be found in the store’s interiors. Conceived in collaboration with New York-based design firm Studio Sofield, the space is modernist in sensibility, and filled with pieces sourced from the 1950s to the present day. These are juxtaposed with playful details, such as a wall comprised of a moving conveyer belt of bags (a reference to New York dry cleaners) which is designed to spring to life at certain points during the day for an interactive and unexpected experience. “Whilst I think it’s important to have consistency for Coach, I do think customers look for surprises at different locations,” says Vevers. “I wanted London’s Regent Street to have its own special features, so that there’s a real reason to come here.”
The range of objects which can be purchased at the store is comprehensive; both menswear and womenswear from the Coach 1941 and Coach New York collections sit alongside craftsmanship bars, where leather goods can be made to order and monogrammed. A particular favourite of Vevers’ is The Rogue Bag, a satchel possessing a satisfying heft, formed luggage handle, and clear nod towards American heritage. The spectrum of colour finish and type of leather on offer is vast, with 100 unique symbols for monogramming also available: “there are traditional initials, of course. But also you could choose from a pair of lips, or a shark – or a lightning bolt! It’s really a lot of fun,” says Vevers.
Despite its ubiquity in America and Asia, Coach is a comparatively cult entity within European markets. As Vevers notes, “We’re still unfamiliar to a lot of people and have so much opportunity in the UK to tell our story and for people to become acquainted with us. We have other stores in London, but nothing quite of this scale and visibility.” Vevers (who hails from Doncaster) has always given himself a license for nostalgic blatancy with his referencing, with the iconic tropes of Americana still feeling exotic to him to this day. For the new concept store, a special range of classic varsity jackets have been created in clear honour of these references; bringing the mood of the U.S. to the midst of London’s Regent Street.